Eight teams of doctors and nurses with state-of-the-art equipment as well as a unit of nuclear, biological and chemical protection (NBC) troops to carry out disinfection have been assigned by the Defense Ministry for the mission.
The first Il-76 cargo plane took off from the Chkalovsky airfield outside Moscow and landed at Batajnica Airport near Belgrade.
The flight between the Russian capital and Serbia takes less than three hours, with the Russian planes expected to make 10 trips – four more on Friday and six on Saturday – to deliver all of the intended cargo. Besides the 87 servicemen, they’ll be carrying 16 military vehicles and a batch of individual protective gear.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for aid in tackling Covid-19 in late March, with his request now being fulfilled.
Serbia has so far registered 1,171 coronavirus cases, with 31 fatalities, and the country’s authorities are trying hard to prevent the epidemic from growing further and taking more lives.
Moscow earlier deployed eight medical brigades to Italy, who are now fighting the disease in the city of Bergamo, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country.
A few days ago, a Russian military plane with essential supplies needed to tackle the coronavirus landed in the US where more than 6,000 have died so far after Donald Trump accepted the offer of assistance from Putin.
Both countries have strong political, military and economic ties due to their shared Slavic and Orthodox Christian heritage. Russia also backs Serbia’s refusal to recognize its former province of Kosovo as an independent country.
The deliveries drew criticism that the countries handed Moscow, which has been under Western sanctions for six years, a public relations coup.